Picture books for older readers

ODT books editor Helen Spiers reviews picture books for older children.


Jenny Broom & Kristjana S. Williams
Wide Eyed Editions/Allen & Unwin

"Ahead of you is a dense, vast forest, shrouded in mist. The air starts to thicken, the temperature rises and the humidity makes you feel clammy and sticky . . ."

Welcome to the Amazon rainforest, one of the five extraordinary habitats explored in this stunning large-format hardback written and illustrated by Londoners Jenny Broom and Kristjana S. Williams.

Each habitat (others are the Chihuahuan Desert, the Black Forest, the Himalayan Mountains, and the Great Barrier Reef) incorporates a synopsis, array of facts and descriptions, all set out clearly in large reader-friendly type, with gorgeous bold digital illustrations of flora and fauna and land and seascapes to match.

This is a beautiful resource for primary school-aged children, but younger ones will find much to delight in the pictures, too.

TIMELINE: A Visual History of Our World

Peter Goes
Gecko Press

This book by Belgian illustrator Peter Goes is a real trip through time, covering everything from the Big Bang, the origins of life and the dinosaurs, to the first people and their settlements, the various empires, dynasties and cultures to make their mark on our world, right up to the first and second world wars, space travel and the new millennium.

Each double-page spread covers one time period and its main events, through a mix of exquisitely detailed drawings and fast facts.

The faded colour pages make the largely black elaborate illustrations all the more striking. But the font is very small given the size and ''busyness'' of the pages, so it does require a fine eye.

For this reason, it is more suitable for older children (and adults alike) who will be able to lose themselves in the intricate pictures for hours on end.

Unusual and imaginative.

CHANGING TIMES: The Story of a New Zealand town and its newspaper

Bob Kerr
Potton & Burton

Matt McPherson is cycling around town delivering the last edition of the local newspaper, The New Zealand Times, started by his family generations ago.

With the future looking bleak, Matt turns to the past, recounting a brief history of the paper, New Zealand and his family in a lively mix of cartoons and captions and newspaper snippets. Readers learn about the long journey made by those emigrating to NZ, early colonial life, the discovery of gold, the Great Depression and the two world wars, up to today.

In a ''happy ending'', young Matt saves the paper by continuing it online, and readers can even find it in a real website, with links to Te Ara, the online encylopedia of NZ, where there is information about the historical events covered.

This is a great book by NZ author Bob Kerr - once a newspaper delivery boy, too - which recounts history in a fun, engaging manner.

A useful school resource.

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